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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (July 7, 2021)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 7, 2021
Continued from Page 1B
Exactly one week earlier I’d traveled to Andy and
Bax Outdoor Store in Portland to purchase a 10-foot
blue oar that was, at that moment, lashed to the side of
our raft and the only thing preventing our trip from en-
tering a phase of powerful misfortune.
Carefully, I unstrapped the spare oar and put it into
the oarlock, pushed out into the river and began ﬂoat-
ing toward Clarno Rapids. Over the next three days and
two nights, we’d run whitewater, get pummeled by
rain and wind, go swimming and ﬁshing in desert heat,
and camp at two of the most beautiful campsites I’ve
I have probably done more challenging things. But
taking two small children down a wilderness river cer-
tainly ranks among the more gloriously exhausting ex-
periences of my life.
The John Day River permits, setup
The John Day is one of Oregon’s great rivers.
It’s the second-longest un-dammed river in the
United States and cuts through deep canyons in a set-
ting on par with a small-scale Grand Canyon. It’s typi-
cally ﬂoated in May and June when there’s enough wa-
ter in the river and the weather is typically good —
warm but not boiling.
The John Day is known for being a mostly mellow
ﬂoat, with only a handful of signiﬁcant rapids and
plenty of great campsites. That can make it a good op-
tion for younger kids.
Last spring, I wrote about how the opening of Thir-
tymile Boat Launch had made it possible to split up the
river’s most famous section. A trip that once required
70 miles of ﬂoating — usually done over a week or
more — can now be done in two halves: a 30-mile up-
per run (Clarno Boat Ramp to Thirtymile) and a 40-
mile lower run (Thirtymile to Cottonwood Canyon
Last year’s trip down the lower section went so well
The John Day River features desert scenery, great campgrounds and plenty of adventure in the 30 mile
rafting trip between Clarno and Thirtymile boat launches in the Oregon desert northeast of Madras.
ZACH URNESS/STATESMAN JOURNAL
with my then-5-year-old that I decided to return this
year with both kids, now 4 and 6. After a few false
starts, I was able to get a permit from Recreation.gov
for the upper 30-mile run.
The upper stretch does have more challenging rap-
ids, but having brought the kids down the North San-
tiam’s whitewater a number of times, I felt OK about it.
With permit in hand, I set up a shuttle for my car,
made sure I had all the gear required — from that extra
oar to a wilderness potty.
My good pal Hannah Hoﬀman, a former reporter for
the Statesman Journal, was cool enough to come along
and help with the girls.
Finally, in late May, it was time to hit the road.
Day 1: Singalong, and onto the river
C. O. (Buck) Boswell
Brother, Father, Grandfa-
ther, Great Grandfather”
Passed away, June 7, 2021
Born in 1931 at the
family farm outside of
Wentworth MO. To Clar-
ence O Boswell & Rachel
M Boswell. Buck was 5th
of 8 children. He attended
school in a 1 room school
house. Buck joined the
Navy at 17 years of age in 1948 and volunteered for
submarine duty. He married Shirley R Hamilton
in 1952.Together they raised 3 sons Bruce, Steve
& Clark. Buck operated a gas station in Dickenson
ND where he met Mike Barrett in 1961, Buck went
to work for Mike hauling mobile homes part time
while operating the station. As the business grew
Buck went fulltime with Barrett and moved the
family to Oregon in 1964 to open the west coast
division of Barrett Mobile Home Transport. Buck
was well-known and respected in the industry and
served on the board of directors for the Oregon
Manufactured Housing Association as well as
being involved in multiple State County and City
committees, helping to write safer regulations for
the transportation of manufactured homes. Buck
retired as division manager in 2001 with 37 years.
Buck married Jeanette in 1986 and in 2010 they
moved to Arizona to enjoy their retirement and
have celebrated 35 years marriage. Buck has been
a Mason for 50 years and is a lifetime member of
the Vista Lodge in Salem Oregon. Buck is preced-
ed in death by both parents, sister Harriet Cable,
Lee’s Summit Missouri. sister Mabel Holland,
Sarcoxie Missouri. brother Joe Boswell, Wentworth
Missouri and daughter in law Sharon Boswell of
Silverton Oregon. Survivors include brother Pete
Boswell, Waxahachie Texas, sisters Helen Sageser,
Reed’s Missouri. Marie Dame, Carthage Missouri
and Barbera Selland, Mitchell South Dakota.
Children: Bruce and Alison Boswell, Salem
Oregon. Steve and Judy Boswell, Bend Oregon.
Clark Boswell, Silverton Oregon and stepson
Dan Dickson, as well as 10 grandchildren & 17
great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be
September 14th @1:30pm at the Willamette Na-
tional Cemetery in Portland Oregon
I woke the girls up as early as possible on a Tuesday
morning in late May, put them in the already-loaded
rig and headed oﬀ for Santiam Pass and the other side
of the Cascades.
The hope was that they’d sleep the ﬁrst few hours in
the car, but Lucy was too excited.
“Dad, let’s sing our mountains song!”
On long trips, we get bored so at one point invented
our own little ditty to celebrate our trips into wild
places. The mountain song goes like this:
Ooooh, it’s early in the morning
Before the sun can rise
Daddy and Lucy and Rollie
Are going for a drive
We’re not going north.
We’re not going west.
We’re going to the mountains, to have a big quest
Oooh, we’re going to the mountains
We’re gonna have some fun
We’re going to the mountains don’t worry everyone
We might run a river
We might see a bear
But we won’t know, until we get there.
There’s a verse for the Coast as well, but I’ll spare
After a stop at McDonalds and lots of Magic Tree
House audio books, we arrived at a boat ramp and
bridge in the middle of the high desert known as Clar-
no — not far from the Clarno unit of the John Day Fossil
Beds National Monument.
We met Rita, our shuttle driver from Thirtymile
Shuttles, who would drive our car and trailer to the
take-out. She chatted with the girls while I got the boat
“Is it just you three?” Rita asked.
“Nope,” I said. “Our friend should be here soon.
Probably smart to have someone to hold onto the girls
in Clarno Rapids, just in case things go sideways.”
Day 1: Near calamity,
The ﬁrst ﬁve miles of the John Day below Clarno is
The river ﬂoats through agricultural land before
cliﬀs started to rise, the water picked up and I could tell
we were entering the top of Clarno Rapids, the gateway
to the wilder river. I parked the boat and scouted the
Here’s how the guidebook describes it: “Clarno Rap-
ids, Class III-IV, is a three-fourths mile series of boul-
ders, chutes and two main drops. It is diﬀerent at every
As I scouted, I was looking for one main thing: To-
ward the end, there is a fence of boulders that requires
running a narrow chute between rocks. At normal wa-
ter levels, the chute is clean with just a wave below it —
pretty easy. But as the river gets lower, a “tooth” rock
appears that’s diﬃcult to avoid in a large raft like mine.
“Dangit,” I said.
Oregon’s drought meant the river was lower than it
should have been in late May, and the tooth rock was
there. If it was just me, this wouldn’t be a major con-
cern — rafts are made to hit rocks sometimes. But the
idea of nailing the rock and jolting my 4-year-old into
the water tied my stomach in knots.
When I returned to the boat, I discovered we were
down one oar.
With a deep breath, I attached the new oar, pushed
out into the river and pulled hard to the right, navigat-
ing around boulders in the upper part of the rapids
Then something caught Hannah’s eye.
“It’s our oar!” she said.
The wayward oar was sitting in an eddy just above
the lower half of the rapids. I pulled over, grabbed it
and attached it to the boat before continuing down
waves and around rocks into the most challenging part
of the rapids.
Finally, I saw the critical chute and lined up the
As we swooped down it, I pulled hard right to avoid
hitting the tooth rock head-on. But we still hit it, caus-
ing the raft to tilt sideways for just a moment. Hannah
held both girls tight and the boat ﬂopped back down as
we continued around more boulders and waves before
exiting the whitewater.
“Scary,” said Lucy.
“Wow,” said Hannah.
“I need a beer,” I said.
Just downstream, the girls spotted a nice campsite
on the right. After a big day, we decided to stop early.
Then we felt the ﬁrst drop of rain.
Setting up camp wasn’t bad, but as the rain grew
heavier, we went inside the tent and played cards.
When the rain passed it was still warm outside, so the
girls and I hiked into the desert hills above our camp-
site while Hannah caught a much-deserved break in
The air smelled of sage and juniper as we climbed to
views of a canyon wilderness below a blue sky mixed
with dark clouds, with sunshine shimmering oﬀ the
rain falling in the distance.
I was proud of my girls. It had been a long and some-
times scary day. But here, with Lucy’s rainbow skirt
ﬂapping in the wind and Rollie searching for the pink
ﬂowers that bloomed on local cactus, they were un-
daunted and ready for more adventure.
Day 2: Deep into the canyon
At its best, the John Day River morphs into a ﬂoat-
ing dream: huge canyon scenery, warm desert temper-
atures, great ﬁshing, occasional rapids and campsites
with sand beaches.
For us, day two brought all of the above. Well, kind
We started oﬀ with some fun rapids, a bouncing set
of Class IIs that splashed the girls in the face but this
time in a fun way. After a short ﬁrst day, we needed to
make some river miles, so I rowed pretty hard, hoping
to get below Basalt Rapids (Class II-III) by lunchtime
and do some ﬁshing.
Last year, Lucy and I caught tons of smallmouth
bass from the raft, and I wanted that same experience
See RAFTING, Page 3B
Continued from Page 1B
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“Easy Online Arrangements”
There is a mailbox in our neighbor-
hood that Harry the hound and I pass
with some regularity on our morning
The name on the side says “ART
NEZ” with the faintest, almost invisible
outlines of two letters, one before art
and the other before nez.
If you look hard, you can just make
out “M” before the former and “I” pre-
ceding the latter. It used to say “Marti-
It always brings a smile because it
reminds me of a sign in my youth for a
business with the word “PEERLESS” in
Some wag had covered over the “R.”
Happy Fourth of July!
This week’s highlights
Item 1: More chances to kick ‘but’:
It’s a bad-news, good-news situation
for halibut anglers oﬀ the central coast
from Cape Falcon, near Manzanita,
south to Humbug Mountain near
The bad news is that high winds and
lumpy seas kept angler pressure down
during the spring all-depth season.
The resulting good news is that with
more than 120,000 pounds left in the
allowed catch, ﬁshing will be open dur-
ing backup days July 15 through 17 and
July 29 through 31.
Item 2: Tide one on: The next minus
series of clamming tides runs the early
mornings of July 9 through 12.
The bonus being that the lowest of
the series fall on the weekend July 10
You can look up the times and tides
for the hot spots on the coast online at
Warning! Boilerplate on the road
As always, be sure to check before
heading out by calling the Oregon De-
partment of Agriculture’s toll-free
shellﬁsh biotoxin hotline at (800) 448-
2474 or go online to the State of Ore-
gon’s Recreational Shellﬁsh Biotoxin
Closures at oregon.gov/oda/
Thought for the week: Whether or
not the ﬁsh are biting, this time of year
you always can depend on the mosqui-
Contact Henry via email at Henry-